This image released by HBO shows Kate Winslet, left, and Guillaume Gallienne in a scene from 'The Regime.'
This image released by HBO shows Kate Winslet, left, and Guillaume Gallienne in a scene from 'The Regime.' Image Credit: HBO via AP

Paris: Kate Winslet stars as a dictator dealing with her personal demons in "The Regime", a new political satire whose makers hope it is "funny and awful" at the same time.

The Oscar-winning actor returns for her third HBO mini-series after the successes of "Mildred Pierce" and "Mare of Easttown".

In "The Regime", which airs from Sunday, Winslet plays Elena Vernham, a dictator and hypochondriac, cocooned in her palace in a fictive central European country, blind to the horrors of her rule.

It was partly directed by Britain's Stephen Frears, known for films including "The Queen", "Dangerous Liaisons" and "High Fidelity".

Frears, 82, told a press conference he was attracted by the originality of the script by Will Tracy, who previously worked on "Succession".

"To have a woman who is a dictator and damaged in her own way seemed to me very interesting," said Frears.

The show also stars Matthias Schoenaerts as a violent soldier with whom Elena becomes infatuated, and features Hugh Grant as an imprisoned political opponent.

It was partly filmed at Schoenbrunn Palace in Vienna.

"I never shot anywhere as nice," said Frears. "I said we should remake 'Dangerous Liaisons' since those rooms were so much more beautiful than what we had back then."

Despite the comedy, the series has echoes of the rising authoritarianism in many countries today.

"The idea was to draw from as many different sources as possible and make something that felt unique and original but could be believable today," said co-director Jessica Hobbs ("The Crown").

"It's an uncomfortable show to watch. That's what political satire hopefully should be: make you think about these darker things while you're laughing about it."

Reviews so far have been mixed, with Time calling it "a lot of skillfully produced fun, but it never delivers the shrewd political commentary its premise could support."

But there has been high praise for Winslet.

The Hollywood Reporter said her "complex blending of physical and psychological choices kept the series somewhere between watchable and fascinating".